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Posts Tagged ‘Scott Figatner’

Picture by Ashley

This was a nicely composed dish. The mint and basil flavored the lamb without overpowering that great lambyness. A ripe pomegranate inspired me to make this pomegranate molasses that actually includes molasses, which gives it a balanced sweetness. I turned seemingly hopeless bok choy—frozen to the point of shaterring— into a colorful, rustic veggie braise. 

Lamb:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400º. Remove any tough fat from the lamb. In a food processor, grind lots of fresh mint, basil, and cilantro. Use any herbs you have. Add about 3 tablespoons of dijon mustard, a bit of olive oil, salt,  lime juice, and 6 cloves of minced garlic (I used a garlic press). Wash the lamb and pat dry.
  2. Season with plenty of salt and pepper and massage the meat. Slather on the herb-dijon mixture to both sides.
  3. Cook for about 1 hour, lower the heat to 350º and cook for about 30 minutes. Insert a thermometer, when it reads 150º, allow it to rest, cut, and serve (for medium). I cooked mine a bit more for some guests who prefer done meat. I think lamb is delicious at all temperatures.

Pomegranate Molasses:

  1. Cut a pomegranate in half and whack with a wooden spoon so that the seeds fall into a bowl. Then, squeeze out the juice. Blend the pomegranate in a food processor or a blender and pass through a sieve to get rid of the bits of seed. This maximizes the amount of juice you get.
  2. Heat in a sauce pan with a few tablespoons of molasses, a splash of red wine or Rosé (I used White Zinfandel), about 5 tablespoons of sugar, and a bit of lemon juice. Simmer until you have a thick sauce and cool to room temperature.
Braised Baby Bok Choy:
  1. Steam the bok choy. When it’s bright and tender, chop it into small pieces. Sauté half of a diced white onion in a pot with olive oil and salt. When they are soft, add the bok choy. Add some corn, diced tomatoes, plenty of chopped basil, a bit of soy sauce, onion powder, a splash of white wine, and some drippings from the lamb. Simmer and cook for a few minutes. Season to taste.
Plate assemblage:
  • Drizzle on the pomegranate molasses, pile on some bok choy mix, and fan out the lamb. Drizzle some lamb juice on top and garnish with the pomegranate seeds.

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This salsa is delicious, healthy, and takes about 10-15 minutes to make. What’s not to love?! My parents want me to sell it in 16 oz. containers. I’ll have to think about that. Meanwhile, here’s the recipe for a mildly spiced yet  flavorful and refreshing salsa. The charred flavor makes my salsa unique and basil provides a more sweet herb flavor. Add a little sweetness and you have a tasty salsa, perfect for topping burgers, tacos, or your tortilla chip—the best of which would have to be Xochitl corn chips.

Ingedients:

  • 2 poblano peppers
  • About 6 plum tomatoes
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 1 small shallot, diced
  • 1/2 jalapeño, diced (for a mild salsa)
  • small handful of cilantro, roughly chopped
  • small handful of basil, roughly chopped
  • salt
  • 1/2 lime
  • 1 tablespoon of honey
  • hefty pinch of sugar
  • 1/4 of a 16 oz. can of corn
  • 2 tablespoons of diced red onion
1. Set the grill to medium-high heat and char the poblanos. They should be covered in black blisters. Cut them in half and remove the stems, seeds and inner membranes. Roughly chop.
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 2. Quarter the plum tomatoes and put in a food processor with the poblanos, the garlic, the shallots, the jalapeños, the herb and a few pinches of salt. Use the chop setting and pulse. Pulse in lime juice, honey, and sugar.
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3. Taste for sweetness (honey/sugar), salt (be generous), acidity (lime), heat (jalopeño), and herb action.
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4. In a hot saute pan, cook the corn until it browns and add to the salsa. Mix in diced red onion.
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Replace the tomatoes with grilled tomatillos (the fruits that look like green tomatoes with husks) for a salsa verde.

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Ingredients:

  • goat meat
  • 2 limes
  • ground cumin and cumin seeds
  • 2-3 garlic cloves
  • red curry
  • 1 sweet onion
  • same quantity of carrots, chopped
  • same quantity of celery
  • 1 teaspoon of tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons of ginger paste
  • 3 bay leaves
  • port wine
  • basmati rice
  • peas
  • a coconut product (dried, shredded, fresh, coconut milk)

Preparation

1. Separate goat meat from bones, clean, and cut into bite-size pieces. Roast the bones in the oven on high heat for an hour and boil in water until a concentrated stock is left. Marinate the meat in lime juice, ground cumin, and red curry for 1 hour.

2. In olive oil or butter if you can, caramelize chopped sweet onions along with chopped carrots, celery, salt and pepper. Add about a teaspoon of tomato paste, a tablespoon of ginger paste, and minced garlic. Add a few bay leaves, more cumin and more spicy curry.

3. In a very hot metal pot, try to brown the goat (no oil is necessary). Add to the stew. Deglaze the pan with port wine (or any red). Add enough good quality tomato sauce to coat the goat and vegetables.  Add the concentrated goat stock too.

4. I had dried coconut, which I ground into a paste, reconstituted with some hot water, and mixed into the stew. Coconut milk would work beautifully. Re-season to taste and add more wine if necessary.  Simmer for a few hours with no lid, adding broth when necessary. For the final 1 or 2 hours to tenderize the goat, cook with a tight-fitting lid and add frozen peas. For an extra rich sauce, add plain yogurt or cream.

5. Follow the directions to cook basmati rice. Toast the grains first in a saute pan with some oil and cumin seeds. Add peas as well 3/4 of the way through the cooking. Serve with naan. Cooking time may vary depending on the cut of goat. Expect between 5 and seven hours of cooking.

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Sabayon is a egg foam made stable by the coagulation of the yolks. Mine, however, is more like a sweet and rich dessert sauce.

Ingredients:

  • 4 yolks
  • sugar (approximately equal to yolks)
  • port wine
  • 1/2 orange
  • cinnamon
Preparation:

1. Make a double boiler by adding an inch of water in a medium-size pot and topping with a pyrex bowl. Over medium to high heat, whisk egg yolks until they become pale and add about 6 teaspoons of sugar, gradually. Add 1-2 tablespoons of port wine and cook until the mixture is hot and thick.

2. Remove from the heat and place the bowl over ice (with some water) to cool. Add a pinch or two of cinnamon and the juice of half an orange. Taste for balance and serve atop whipped cream and fresh berries.

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The souffle is a great technique to have in your repertoire. Everybody gets their own and they’re quite impressive. Just don’t tell your guests that they’re dirt cheap! My limoncello souffle is light and refreshing, with an interior that is both creamy and fluffy. You have to do a little guess work with the amount of flavor in your base, but souffles are much easier than they sound.

Prep time: 10minutes

Cook time: 10 minutes

Ingredients: (Serves Four)

  • 4 eggs
  • 1 lemon
  • 6+ tablespoons of sugar
  • 2-3 tablespoons limoncello (Italian lemon-flavored liqueur)
  • butter
  • powdered sugar
You will need 4 small ramekins (also called timbales) for the souffles.
1. Preheat the oven to 375º. Separate 4 eggs into two separate bowls (a glass pyrex for the yolks). Any yolk in the whites will ruin the souffle. Make a double boiler by adding about an inch of water to a medium-size pot and heating, placing the pyrex bowl on top. Whisk constantly. When the yolks start to heat up, add tablespoons of sugar, gradually. Eventually, the yolks will start to pale and thicken like a sauce. Add the zest and juice of one lemon and about 2-3 tablespoons of limoncello.
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2. Give the limoncello a chance to cook off. When you have a thick, pale-yellow sauce, remove from the heat. Give the base a taste; if it tastes perfect, it will be bland when lightened with tasteless egg whites and air. Make the base twice as flavorful, anticipating this. The base should taste very lemony, very sweet, and the limoncello should be prominent.
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3. Fill a large bowl with ice and add water so that the glass bowl can rest on top and cool. You may change bowls to quicken the process. For your information, the ratio for a souffle is about 1/2 cup of base per egg white.
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4. Whip the whites on medium and then high power. If you have cream of tarter, add a pinch and your souffle will be more stable and may evade deflation. The whites should be opaque, glossy, and form stiff peaks like whipped cream.
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5. Meanwhile, the base should have thickened a lot and should be a lemon-curd or pie-filling consistency. When cool, double-check for taste. Vigorously stir a bit of white into the base to lighten it and slowly pour the base into the whites, gently folding them until incorporated, but without losing too much volume. Butter four small ramekins and coat evenly with sugar.
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6. Put a cookie rack on top of a baking sheet and disperse the ramekins. Bake in the oven until the tops are slightly browned and a toothpick could be inserted and removed cleanly or almost cleanly (some prefer there souffles more creamy). Dust with powdered sugar and serve immediately. By the way, there’s nothing wrong with opening the oven… they don’t magically sink. However, if they did, bring them back up to temp and they’ll rise almost as high.

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The hanger steak, also known as the hanging tenderloin, is an underutilized cut. It is prized among butchers and is usually the cut they save for themselves. Although it takes quite a bit of butchery work, the steaks are almost as tender as filet mignon, but with much more flavor. Mine is marinated for hours in herbs, garlic, dijon, and citrus and soaks in the flavor to its pink, succulent core. A squeeze of lime—grilled to bring out the sweetness—is the perfect finishing touch.

Ingredients:

  • rosemary
  • thyme
  • garlic
  • cilantro
  • parsley
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • dijon mustard (2-3 tbsp)
  • 1/2 lemon
  • 1/2 lime (plus some for grilling)
1. Trim the hanger steak, separating both strips from the tough tendon in between. Clean thoroughly by removing fat, tendons, and silver skin.
2. De-stem a few sprigs of rosemary and roughly chop. Grind a few cloves of garlic in a food processor with the rosemary and some thyme leaves. Grind with olive oil and plenty of salt. Add cilantro leaves—some stem is okay—and parsley and continue to grind with fresh pepper, dijon mustard, and a squeeze of lemon and lime juice. Add olive oil if necessary to create a smooth and pasty marinade.
3. Allow to marinate in the refrigerator for at least 5 hours and then bring them up to room temperature. Heat the grill to medium and oil it. Grill for 2.5 minutes (lid closed) and rotate 45° for another 2.5 to make cross-hatches. Repeat on the other side.

4. Allow the meat to rest for 5 minutes and cut into medallions against the grain. The meat is tender enough for thick pieces. This recipe will make a medium-rare steak, although it will vary in different sections of the organically shaped meat. For medium, try 6 minutes on each side. For well-done, try a microwave. Serve with grilled limes.

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I literally made this salad because there was no room in the refrigerator for the cucumbers, but it turned out lovely. The cucumbers stay crisp, cool and refreshing while the dressing is light and complex. 

Ingredients:

  • 2 cucumbers
  • 1/2 red onion
  • fresh mint
  • fresh cilantro
  • fresh basil
  • ginger paste
  • wasabi paste
  • rice wine vinegar (Mirin)
  • honey
  • sesame oil
  • olive oil
  • salt

1. Peel the cucumbers and cut in half longways. With a spoon, remove all the seeds and pulp with a gentle scraping motion. Flip over  (cavity side down) and cut strips—about 1/4″—on a bias. For the onion, slice in half and remove the skin. Take one half, place cut-side down on the board, and cut off the very top and root end. Angling the cut will make it easier to dislodge the core which is the next step. Make thin semicircle slices and add to the cucumber.

2. De-stem cilantro and mint leaves and roll inside a basil leaf. Make a chiffonade cut (very thin ribbons) and add to the veggies. Hint: slicing with a backwards motion is the most effective way to cleanly cut herbs.

3. For the dressing, whisk ginger paste and a little wasabi paste with rice wine vinegar, honey, sesame oil (only a little is needed), olive oil and salt. The dressing is perfect when every ingredient’s flavor is pronounced. Keep in mind that the cucumbers will only get a thin coating of the dressing, so make it more pungent than fits your taste. If you like it sweet, add more honey. If you like heat, add more wasabi, etc.

4. Mix the dressing with the cucumbers and onions and marinate for a short time in the refrigerator (10-15 minutes). Before serving, break off fennel fronds and mix in for garnish.

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Many of us don’t put enough thought into scrambled eggs.  We crack some eggs into a bowl, whisk it up until blended, pour ’em into a hot non-stick skillet and call it a day. Most scrambled eggs end up with curds that are large, foamy, dry and flavorless, notwithstanding some notes of sulfur.

Before we make the eggs, we must first understand how they work:

  1. Egg proteins begin as folded chains of amino acids.
  2. As they’re heated, they move faster and faster, bump into each other and unravel.
  3. These chains re-bond to each other, forming a network.
  4. With constant stirring, solid, but moist curds form.
  • For good eggs, start by thoroughly scrambling them with a whisk or a fork until they become a homogenous mixture.
  • To avoid rubbery eggs, an additional liquid must be added. This dilutes the proteins and forms a looser, yet still stable network upon coagulation. Cream, milk or even butter are the best bets. I add a splash of cream and a splash or orange juice. Here’s why:
  • Proteins have negative charges and repel each other. Fruit juices—like orange juice—are acids and lower the pH, decreasing the repelling charge. Consequently, proteins aggregate sooner, before they have a chance to unravel completely and form strong bonds. Also, salt dissolves into positively and negatively charged ions, effectively neutralizing the proteins and, similarly, creating a more tender curd. Thus, I also add salt to my eggs for that reason and the fact that eggs too need to be seasoned.
  • Add butter to a pan on low heat. When the butter jsut starts to bubble, add the eggs and stir constantly until many small curds form. Add the cheese of your choice and mix until there is still a thin coating of liquid on the curds. This is the thin white that takes longer to coagulate than the yolk. Remove from the heat, and the thin white will start to coagulate, yet your eggs will be at the peak of moisture and tenderness. Finally, the combined efforts of the low eat and acid will reduce the eggy flavor and aroma that turns people off.
Harold McGee On Food And Cooking helped me better understand eggs.

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For those of you who are new to quail, there’s nothing to be afraid of; quail tastes just like chicken. I made a cherry and wine reduction and blended it too create a sauce. The quail is grilled until crispy and charred and you can eat it with your hands. You can also try my cherry and wine sauce on chicken, duck, or pork chops.


Ingredients:

6 jumbo quail

1/2 white onion, minced

2 cloves of garlic, minced

fresh thyme

1 container of fresh cherries, de-pitted and chopped

1 teaspoon beef base

red wine (I used cabernet sauvignon)

cherry juice

sugar

3 caps of apple cider vinegar

olive oil, salt, and pepper

Sauce:

Heat a sauté pan over medium heat. Coat the pan with about 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the onions with a bit of salt and when they have softened, add thyme leaves and garlic. In a minute, add the cherries.

I stirred in about a teaspoon of beef base, dissolved in some hot water. Along with this makeshift beef stock, add a good splash of wine, and cherry juice—you can find it at most grocery stores. Incorporate about three five-finger pinches of sugar and the apple cider vinegar. Reduce for a bit. I also added some store-bought ginger paste, but this is optional.

Blend in a blender or just grind in a food processor until the sauce is relatively smooth and homogenous. Adjust for consistency by reducing or by adding water and adjust the flavor by adding more wine, vinegar, or sugar. Also, salt to taste at this point. If you have the technology (a chinois or cheesecloth) strain the sauce for a luxuriously smooth texture and refined look.

Quail:

Butterfly the quail by cutting along the breast bone. Rub both sides with olive oil, salt, and pepper and get the grill nice and hot. Quail needs to be cooked quickly or it will dry out. Grill for about 6-7 minutes on both sides (with the grill closed), starting skin-side down. Make your desired grill marks and just cut into it, taking it off the grill when just cooked through.

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Turtle Soup with a bit of Sherry. Tastes like beef.

Salmon with shrimp, spinach & crabmeat over risotto with dill cream sauce. Not my mamas salmon.

Crepes with a cream cheese, brandy pecan stuffing with strawberry sauce...if you like that sorta thing

Everything is set up for an Indian wedding

I forgot what this is called, but it looks pretty cool

Brie wrapped in puff pastry with a fleur-de-lis

I co-worked the shrimp and grits station at the wedding. It's no wonder why it was the favorite dish of the night.

sesame-crusted tuna hors d'oeuvre

The Court Of The Two Sisters. Boy, was this outdoor seating a find!

chicken breast served over potato mash and steamed asparagus, topped with lump crabmeat and tasso hollandaise. French has never tasted so light!

I got down with my soul at Lil' Dizzy's. I guess that's what was making those strange sounds from my stomach later. Just kidding. Sorry about the bad picture, I didn't like the meal enough to spend the time editing.

Muffalleta featured on Throwdown! with Bobby Flay. This was the half size. Half a boat! It's basically an italian sub with some olives.

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Rabbit and Dumplings at Cochon. The chef is a James Beard Award winner. I watched the dish bubbly in a blazing wood-fire oven. It was served to me in a skillet, rich and satisfying.

At the Roosevelt, I worked on salmon roullades, rolls of smoked salmon and cream cheese on rye bread with microgreens and dill, for a wedding.

Weirdest hors d'oeuvre ever. crab and mango salad in a curry-flavored cone.

Run-of-the-mill day in the French Quarter

impromptu mini street parade. I don't think any streets were closed off

A multitude of blinis topped with creme fraiche and caviar, garnished with brunoise chives, egg whites, egg yolks, and shallots for an event

pork pate for the breakfast buffet.

strawberries and prosciutto at brunch buffet.

Ceviche. Luckily, we have a peruvian in garde manger.

carpaccio with pickled red onions, parmesan, and spinach chiffonade.

What a spread!

Shrimps and ersters. Did I mention it's all-you can eat?

The Blue Room. I really don't want to list all of the famous musicians that performed or got there start here.

Rabbit tagliattele from John Besh's Domenica. I can't remember if I enjoyed it; I ate it too quickly

He can pull off "pizze" too.

Olivier's. Best corn bread I've ever had. I asked the waitress if she could get me the recipe. She went to the kitchen, returned, and said, "We use the Jiffy box recipe." So disillusioned.

Duck breast and plum port sauce at Oliviers. It was overcooked and the sauce tasted like artificial jam. I sent it back.

Much better! Half roasted chicken and corn maque choux. Good homestyle cookin. Lay off the dried herbs though!

Meatloaf at Besh's American Sector. Made with brisket, cooked low and slow, and mayhaw—like a cranberry, but less tart—tomato sauce with mashed potatoes, gravy, and crisp haricot verts.

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My first cooked oyster from Felix's as per the Roosevelt's concierge recommendation! Broiled to perfection in a butter sauce. The creamy oysters melted in my mouth and bursted with flavor. I only ate the borderline stale bread to sop up the butter.

Red fish at Mr. B's. Grilled simply with asparagus and roasted potatoes, it was bland and not satisfying. Considering how much I paid, it was a major disappointment.

Linguini pasta tossed with fresh spinach and garlic in a garlic scampi sauce. well-seasoned fried oysters were perfect when eaten with the pasta.

No. I do not want a foot massage. I feel like when one asian starts a business, the rest have to follow suit. There are tons of these in NOLA

Napoleon House invented the Pimms cup. The restaurant looks like an 18th century home with a beautiful outdoor square. The Roast beef Po'boy with debris was the first thing in my life that I enjoyed because of its messiness.

Beautiful. Right? And to think people are nibbling on bruschetta a few steps from bourbon st.

The only problem I had with Napoleon House. He's no longer living so it's time to update the Napoleon-size bathtub

I get to work here? I think I'm gonna like it here, Annie. Italian mosaic by the way. It also took two men 18 months to polish the chandeliers

I'm spending time here by the way. August treats salads like the Buckingham Palace Gardens

Can I have fries with that?

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There are many ways to make roasted chicken and, because of its simplicity, it makes a difference which one you choose. My roasted chicken has a skin that cracks under your teeth and a juicy interior swells with herby flavors, yet still tastes like unadulterated chicken. I’m noshing on it right out of the fridge. This recipe also features Jordan’s Million Dollar Potato Dollars, the name of which, grossly discounts them.

Ingredients:

  • Whole chicken
  • Thyme
  • Rosemary
  • Losher salt
  • 1 lemon
  • Sage
  • 1 stick of butter
  • Garlic cloves
  • Black pepper
  • Red Potatoes (you can also use yukon gold)
  • Thermometer, tin foil, non-stick cooking spray

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Pull the giblets out of the chicken and pat the whole thing dry with paper towels. With half the thyme sprigs, pull the leaves off the stem and roughly chop. Do the same with half the rosemary sprigs.

1. Sprinkle kosher salt inside the chicken’s cavity. Stuff in half a lemon and a few sprigs of rosemary and thyme. Put most of the sage in whole. With Butcher’s twine, wrap the legs so that the bones are touching. Cross around the back  and tie the wings in nice and tight. There is no set formula like origami.
2. Take room-temperature butter and warm it in a pan while mixing in the chopped herbs, a few cloves of minced garlic, and the rest of the lemon juice. Sprinkle kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper on the entire bird—don’t miss any nook or cranny. Drizzle half the herb butter on the bird and rub it in gently.
3. Thinly slice the potatoes (about 1/8 in.). Chop the extra sage and add it to the remaining butter and coat the potatoes in a mixing bowl with salt and pepper. We put some lemon zest in too. Might as well.
4. In a large pyrex casserole, roast the bird for about one hour and 10 minutes, until the internal temperature in the center of the thickest part of the breast reaches 160 degrees (while you are checking temperatures periodically, use a spoon to baste the chicken with its own juices). I also put chopped carrots in as well. Your thermometer should not read a lower number on any part of the chicken.
5. Cover a sheet pan with foil and spray with non-stick cooking spray. Cook the potatoes for 25-30 minutes, flipping halfway through.
6. Remove the chicken from the oven and allow it to rest so the juices redistribute. The internal temperature will rise to 165 degrees. If your chicken is the desired brown color before it’s done and you have time, turn down the temperature and allow it to cook low and slow on 350 degrees.

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Photo by Karen Knauff

I like to think outside the box when it comes to food; this dish has Thai and Indian elements. One might not expect flavors from across the Bay of Bengal to marry well, but seared salmon rubbed with garam masala was delicious when paired with jasmine rice cooked in coconut milk with mangos, cilantro, and peas. I finished the dish finished with a rich curry-coconut sauce.

Ingredients:

  • Box of jasmine rice (white rice will work)
  • 1 can of coconut milk
  • salt
  • ¼ cup of chopped dried mangos or fresh
  • 1 lemon
  • Cilantro
  • Frozen peas
  • 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • Pepper
  • 1 teaspoon of curry powder
  • Cinnamon
  • Salmon filets (Follow Trader Joe’s thawing directions)
  • Garam masala (my version had coriander, chilies, cinnamon, cardamom, cumin, and cloves—The five Cs)
  • Cooking oil

Pour the contents of a box of rice into a medium saucepan. My jasmine rice called for two cups of water, so I used a cup of coconut milk, a cup of water, and a pinch of salt. Follow the cooking direction and start rehydrating the dried mangos in a pan with a ½ cup of water, over medium heat. Remove from the heat when they are soft. This is not necessary if you have fresh mangos.

When the rice is finished, add the juice of half a lemon, mangos, chopped cilantro, thawed peas, and salt to taste.

For the sauce, sweat the minced shallots and garlic in butter with salt and pepper. When they are fragrant and soft, add the remaining coconut milk. Finish with curry powder, lemon juice, and cinnamon. I chose to strain out the garlic and shallots for a cleaner looking sauce. Reheat when the salmon is finished.

For the salmon, salt and pepper the flesh and massage with plenty of garam masala. Get a nonstick pan very hot and pour on a thin layer of canola or olive oil. Sear the filets skin-side down first. Also, start the thick piece first and watch the side until almost all the flesh has lightened in color. Flip and cook the spiced side for a minute, being careful not to burn the spices.

When the fish is firm and flaky, serve immediately over a mound of coconut rice and spoon over the coconut curry sauce. Garnish with cilantro leaves and serve right away.

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With this dish, authenticity was on the back-burner, but taste and creativity was on full heat. My no-curry curry features the flavors of indian spices and techniques, while a few twists, like coconut milk and lemongrass, give a subtle element of thai cuisine. Served with basmati rise, the dish is indian food without the fat cholesterol and you can control the spice. Best of all, it’s as easy as 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9… Okay, it may not be as simple as shake-n-bake, but the results are well worth it.

Ingredients: (Spices should be used to taste)

  • Basmati rice
  • Can of Coconut milk
  • 2 lemongrass stalks
  • 4-5 thick ginger slices
  • Olive oil
  • 1 large white/yellow onion
  • Salt, pepper
  • 1 teaspoon Coriander
  • 2 teaspoons Garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon Turmeric
  • About 10 mini peppers (red, yellow, orange)
  • 1.5 teaspoons of tomato paste
  • 3 fresh bay leaves
  • 5-7 garlic cloves
  • A small bag of snow peas
  • 1/2 bag of pre-cooked lentils
  • 3 whole chicken breasts (about 3 pounds) cut into bite-size pieces.
  • 1 teaspoon of cinnamon or 1 stick early on
  • cumin seeds
  • frozen peas
  • fresh parsley

Follow the directions to start cooking basmati rice. It takes about 20 minutes. I’m keeping this simple since it will be under the sauce.

Start heating a can of coconut milk in a small sauce pan with the lemongrass and ginger. Keep it at a calm boil until the flavors merry.

In a large pot, sauté the onion with salt and pepper, coriander, garam masala, and turmeric. After the onions have a head-start, add the peppers. Stir in the tomato paste, and the bay leaves. Press or mince the garlic, and make a paste by smearing the garlic against the cutting board with your knife, salt, and olive oil. Add the snow peas.

Hold a strainer over the pot and pour the coconut milk through it (the coconut milk will join the party and lemongrass will have to leave. Ginger’s pon the list, so pick that out and add it back to the pot. Add half the lentils.

Quickly sauté the chicken in olive oil, salt, and pepper (it may take multiple batches) until it is opaque and pour into the pot. You may also cook it completely in the sauce which will take longer, but could turn out very well. Add the cinnamon. If you want, add a little yogurt at the end for some healthy richness.

Fluff the rice with cumin seeds—toasting in a pan until fragrant is a nice touch. Microwave some frozen peas and fold in for great color. To serve, build a mound of rice, ladle the sauce over, and garnish with chopped parsley leaves. Serve with some naan.

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My below-par photography skills will no longer be featured on this blog. Since Jordan Emont is not with me this week, you’ll have to imagine the appearance. Even though a picture says a thousand words, this dish will leave you speechless. The bechamel allows my sauce to be thick and rich without being heavy and fattening. Subtly sweet Marsala wine offsets lemony thyme which is a perfect counterpoint to the woodsy flavor of mushrooms. I loaded the dish with spinach and onions and roasted grapes give a surprise of texture and sweetness.

Ingredients:

  • Onions
  • Olive oil
  • Garlic cloves
  • Salt, pepper
  • Mushrooms (I used brown baby bella)
  • Thyme
  • Rosemary
  • Marsala wine/Beef broth opt.
  • Spinach/Arugula
  • Milk (I used 2%)
  • Butter (I used unsalted)
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Red grapes
  • Pecans
  • Lemons
  • Fresh parsley
  • Penne pasta

Sauté onions in a large pan with olive oil, adding garlic after a few minutes. Salting is important here or your onions will stubbornly resist softening. Add the mushrooms when the onions are translucent. Be generous with thyme leaves and chopped rosemary. Salt and pepper here as well.

Add Marsala wine—the real stuff, not the sweetened kind with barely any alcohol. Beef broth wouldn’t hurt too although I didn’t use it. You can choose to make this dish with spinach or arugula. Spinach should be added here, but arugula should be added  à la minute.

Bechamel: In a sauce pot, heat milk until it starts to boil. In a sauté pan, melt about a half stick of butter and whisk in plenty of butter. Whisk until you have a slightly brown color (this will add an extra dimension of nutty flavor). Slowly whisk in the scalding milk, while keeping the heat up. Just troubleshoot until you reach a very thick sauce. I added a handful of parmesan cheese and a splash of heavy cream. Hey, we’re being much healthier with the milk-based sauce. Keep in mind that it will thin out when mixed with the marsala, which is the next step.

Roast some halved red grapes in a hot oven with some pecans or walnuts. The nuts are done when they are fragrant and crisp. The grapes should still have they’re texture. Add lemon juice and chopped parsley.

Mix with penne pasta or whatever you prefer.

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I normally write a blurb here about the dish, but this would only be redundant. The picture says it all.

Red Quinoa

  • 8 oz. box of quinoa
  • 1 ¼ cups of water
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 orange
  • 1  lime
  • 2 teaspoons of soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon of grated ginger
  • A drizzle of agave nectar
  • Salt, pepper, and chopped cilantro leaves
  • Sunflower seeds

Follow the directions on the box to cook the quinoa. In a bowl, whisk together the garlic, orange juice, orange zest, lime juice, soy sauce, grated ginger, agave nectar, salt, pepper and cilantro. Toast sunflower seeds until fragrant and incorporate them. Allow the flavors to marry in the refrigerator for a few hours (it only improves with time). gently warm in a covered pot before serving.

Cod

  • 2 cod filets
  • 1 container of crab meat
  • mayonnaise (béchamel optional)
  • sherry (optional)
  • Worcestershire
  • Hot sauce
  • Paprika

In a hot non-stick pan, sear the cod in olive oil with salt and pepper until browned on both sides.  I topped mine with a mixture of crab, béchamel, mayo, sherry, Worcestershire and hot sauce. Dust with paprika and bake in the oven. You know it’s done when the fish is completely opaque and white.

You can make this dish without béchamel or sherry, but here’s the recipe for béchamel. It’s a very simple sauce.


Bechamel recipe: (From Epicurious)

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 1/4 cups scalding milk
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground pepper

Melt the butter in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Stir in the flour and cook, stirring constantly, until the paste cooks and bubbles a bit, but don’t let it brown — about 2 minutes. Add the hot milk, continuing to stir as the sauce thickens. Bring it to a boil. Add salt and pepper to taste, lower the heat, and cook, stirring for 2 to 3 minutes more. Remove from the heat. To cool this sauce for later use, cover it with wax paper or pour a film of milk over it to prevent a skin from forming.

Try adding cheese and mixing with pasta or whole grain mustard as a sauce for meats.

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I love a good Insalata Caprese; succulent mozzarella, vibrant tomatoes and fresh basil with a drizzle of fruity olive oil. However, tomatoes this time of year certainly aren’t from Jersey—unless they’re Newark’s finest. Plus, floods inundated basil fields all over the country, and I don’t want my basil grown in a test tube. Therefore, I replaced mozzarella with goat cheese, tomatoes with marinated beets, and basil with sage, to make a crostini that screams Caprese without compromising flavor.


Ingredients (Makes approximately hors d’oeuvres)

I finally found a measurement style that GW students can relate to

  • 2 shots of olive oil
  • 1 shot of balsamic vinegar
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • Agave nectar to taste
  • Pinch of cinnamon
  • Salt and pepper
  • French Baguette
  • Long stick of goat cheese
  • Fresh Sage

Scott’s Steps:

In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, lime juice, agave nectar, cinnamon, salt and pepper. Slice the beets and allow them to marinate for at least 1 hour.

Slice a French baguette into thin, 1/8 in. slices. Arrange on a foiled sheet pan in an even layer and brush/drizzle on olive oil. Lightly sprinkle with salt and bake at 325° until they are crunchy.

To assemble, slice thick slabs of goat cheese and place on each crostini, resting one beet slice on top with a sage-leaf garnish.

The goat cheese has an unparalleled, rich creaminess and a tang that is complemented by the sweetness of the marinated beets. The lime and balsamic brighten the mellow flavor of the beets while the cinnamon adds a subtle complexity. Finally, the sage leaf provides and earthy aroma and an amazing sweet-savory flavor that ties everything together.

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Inspired by Good Stuff Eatery, this burger holds true to the name. If you like flavor in your food, you can’t go wring with horseradish mayo, a sweet onion marmalade, an arugula salad, blue cheese crumbles and parmesan-rosemary oven fries.

Ingredients:

Parmesan and Rosemary Oven Fries:

 

  • Russet potatoes
  • Olive oil
  • Fresh rosemary, chopped
  • Grated parmesan cheese

 

Preheat the oven to 450°. Wash the russet potatoes, cut each in half and each half into four wedges. In a mixing bowl, toss with olive oil, salt and pepper. Bake on aluminum foil for about 30 minutes, flipping occasionally. Add more oil if they start to stick. Coat with rosemary and parmesan, cooking until soft on the inside and crispy-brown on the outside.

Really Good Burger:

  • ½ onion, chopped
  • Red wine
  • balsamic vinegar
  • Brown sugar
  • Blue cheese crumbles
  • Ground beef (80/20)
  • Salt, pepper
  • Standard burger buns
  • Sesame seeds (optional)
  • Horseradish
  • Mayonnaise
  • Arugula

Sauté chopped white onions in a pan with olive oil until they are soft and browned. Deglaze with a pour of red wine and a splash or two of balsamic vinegar. Reduce for about ten minutes and add about two handfuls of brown sugar. Add more wine/vinegar if necessary. It is ready when the onions are soft and the sauce is thick. Fold in blue cheese crumbles and turn off the heat.

Gently form the beef into patties without pressing too much. I make a depression in the top of the burger—this prevents the burger-beach-ball effect. Pepper and heavily salt both sides. I cooked mine in a cast-iron grill pan. You can also cook them in a regular pan. The pan should be very hot and coated with olive oil. You may finish the burgers in the oven if the room becomes smoky, but they should be pink inside.

I butter both sides of the buns, scatter on sesame seeds and toast them in the same pan.

For the condiment, just mix mayo with a little bit of horseradish to taste. Add salt, pepper, and a touch of olive oil. Make extra as a dip for the fries!

For the salad, simply hand toss the arugula, dressing it lightly with olive oil, salt and pepper.

To compose the burger, take the toasted bun, spread on the horseradish mayo, place the burger on the throne, spoon the onion marmalade, sprinkle some more blue cheese crumbles, and crown with the arugula salad and the bun top! Serve with the parmesan rosemary fries.

WARNING: this dish is not for the sensitive palate. Like I said, it’s a really good burger.

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Fish is not off limits for a college student. In my mahi mahi, the sesame seeds add texture and a nutty flavor to the fish while enhancing the presentation. The glaze is sweet and pungent and the peas are crisp and complimenting.

  • ½ cup Soy sauce
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • honey or agave syrup
  • lime and/or orange
  • fresh garlic
  • fresh ginger
  • mahi mahi (TJs)
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • Black sesame seeds
  • White sesame seeds
  • Snap peas

1. Preheat the oven to 400°. In a saucepan over medium heat, cook the soy sauce, the sugar and a good squeeze of honey or agave. Add in the juice of a lime and/or some fresh orange juice. Don’t forget to stir!

2. Add minced garlic and plenty of grated ginger when it starts to thicken. Taste for balance. When it has thickened, cool in the fridge and it will set even more.

3. Thaw the frozen mahi mahi completely (in the fridge or in warm water) and dry thoroughly with paper towels. Coat and rub with olive oil and salt and pepper both sides.

4. Press one side of the mahi mahi on a plate, enveloped in sesame seeds until no flesh is visible. Get a nonstick pan hot, pour in olive oil and sear the seed side for about one minute, just to slightly toast the seeds.

5. Flip and allow the bottom to cook until you see a faint pinkish-hue left on the side of the fish. Pop them in the oven until the hue is gone and the side is completely white and opaque.

6. In the meantime, sauté snap peas with olive oil, minced garlic, and grated ginger. Use soy sauce for seasoning. When the peas have a bite, but no raw taste, add plenty of white sesame seeds.

Serve the fish over the snap peas with the glaze drizzled on top.

I garnished mine with petals of sliced ginger.

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